But, for, and, nor, or, yet, so are all coordinating conjunctions. When and how you use them impacts the way people will, should, or could take what you say. Example “I love you but I wish you would …” to me, I hear “I want you to think that I love you but I am about to tell you what I really think”. If you compare that to “I love you and I wish you would …” where I would hear both statements are true. So we need to be careful about how we use our conjunctions! Imagine if the message came in the opposite direction with the words before the “but” being negative and the words after being a word of encouragement.
Imagine if you knew God’s plans are good! Imagine if you knew God’s plans were to give you a hope and a future! Imagine if you knew that Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn the world but that through Him it could be saved! Imagine if you knew that with God all things are possible! Imagine if you knew that God can take what the enemy plans for evil and can turn it around and use it for good! Imagine if you knew that Jesus overcame the world!
Then when you face trials of many kinds, we can consider it pure joy because we know that will use it for good! Now we can say “I have trials, BUT I will consider it pure joy because I know that the testing of my faith produces perseverance and so I will let perseverance finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We now have a but whenever we face trials or troubles! BUT I know the God I serve! BUT I know that God is for me and not against me! BUT I know that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! BUT I know that if my God is for me, who can be against me! BUT I know that my God is greater, my God is strong, my God is higher than any other, my God is healer, awesome in power!
BUT can be very powerful when used properly!
Today’s devotional (Day 67) shows just such an example.
During one of the very severe potato famines in Ireland a number of families wrote a letter to their landlord saying they had absolutely no money at all to pay their rent and begged to be let off all their debts. The landlord was Canon Andrew Robert Fausset, born near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland, in 1821. For fifty-one years he was rector of St Cuthbert’s, York.
Canon Fausset wrote a letter back to his tenants. He said it was quite impossible to let them off their debts. It would be a bad precedent. They had to pay every single penny.
‘But,’ he wrote, ‘I enclose something that might help you.’ It was a cheque for a very large sum of money – which far more than covered all of their debts.
Their hearts must have leapt with joy when they saw the word ‘but’. ‘But’ is a powerful word when facing trouble, tests and temptations.
–from Day 67: Bible In One Year 2017
With God on your side, you can take anything that comes your way and say “yeah, but God…”
BUT… — Day 67: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 31:9-18, Mark 14:17-42, Leviticus 17, Leviticus 18
1. In trouble… ‘BUT I trust in you’ … Psalm 31:9-18
9Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
10My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction,
10 Or guilt and my bones grow weak.
11Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.
12I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
13For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
14But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
16Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
17Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
–from Psalm 31
We see here how in the midst of the troubles and the trials, David grabs onto the BUT!
No one can go through life without facing troubles. If David’s example is anything to go by, anyone in a position of leadership will face more than most.
David was in trouble: ‘with grief my eye is weakened, also my inner self and my body’ (v.9b, AMP). He was facing spiritual, mental and physical challenges.
He faced ‘distress’, ‘sorrow’, ‘grief’, ‘anguish’, ‘groaning’, ‘affliction’, illness, ‘enemies’, ‘contempt’ from his neighbours, brokenness, ‘terror’, conspiracy and plots (vv.9–13).
Yet, in the midst of all this, he is able to say, ‘But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands’ (vv.14–15a). He trusts in God’s ‘unfailing love’ (v.16). Sometimes, when things are going wrong, it is hard to believe that God really does love you. But he does. David cries out for help because he trusts that God will deliver him.
It is in the tough times that the object in which you trust is really put to the test. But, as Henry Ford wrote, ‘When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.’ Trust that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
–from Day 67: Bible In One Year 2017
So let’s grab onto what we have trust and faith in! Let’s walk it out with Jesus! Let’s not walk away from Him or break it off like some are willing to do with human relationships! Let’s put all of our hope and trust in God!
2. In tests… ‘Yet not what I will, BUT what you will’ … Mark 14:17-42
17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
19They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25“Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36“Abba,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
–from Mark 14
Sometimes you may face difficulties in life not because you are doing something wrong but because you are doing something right. All of us will face tests, trials and temptations in life. You are not alone. Jesus himself never did anything wrong, yet he faced greater tests, trials and temptations than anyone in human history.
Loyalty is a wonderful quality. Loyalty of friends and colleagues is encouraging, upbuilding and reassuring in times of troubles, trials and temptations. Disloyalty is gutting.
Jesus had spent three years with twelve people he loved, lived with and had trained. Yet he had to say to them, ‘One of you will betray me’ (v.18). It is horrible to be betrayed by an enemy or an acquaintance. But to be betrayed by a friend is almost unbearable.
Not only did one of the disciples betray him, all the rest fell away (v.27). Again, this must have been a huge disappointment to Jesus. These were his closest friends yet in the time of trial they all fell away – even the one who was such a strong leader, Peter. Although Peter was absolutely determined not to deny Jesus, he did eventually disown him.
As Jesus approaches the terrible moment he is ‘deeply distressed and troubled’ (v.33b). His soul is ‘overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’ (v.34a).
We looked previously (see BiOY Day 60) at the Old Testament background to the cup of God’s wrath against sin. As he passes around the cup he says, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’ (v.24). Later on in Gethsemane he prays, ‘Take this cup from me’ (v.36a).
In addition, ‘poured out for many’ (Mark 14:24b) echoes Isaiah 53; ‘because he poured out his life unto death’ (Isaiah 53:12c). Jesus knew he was facing unimaginable suffering, taking the sin of the world on his own shoulders and shedding his blood for us.
Again, to understand this fully, we need to refer to the Old Testament background. In our Old Testament passage for today, twice we read that ‘the life of a creature is in the blood’ (Leviticus 17:11,14). ‘It is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life’ (v.11). In other words, it is ‘life for life’ (Exodus 21:23). Jesus gave his life for us.
Every time you take the bread and the wine in communion, meditate on his great love, his sacrifice and his death for you. Receive again his forgiveness, mercy, grace and favour. Dedicate your life again to him and say, ‘Yet not my will but yours be done.’
Jesus, facing disloyalty, disappointment, distress and death, puts his trust in his loving heavenly Father and says, ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will’ (Mark 14:36c). He knows that God is his perfect Father, whom he can address as ‘Abba, Father’ (v.36a) – an intimate way of addressing him, almost like ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’.
He knows that God is all-powerful. In many ways he wants to escape ‘this cup’ (v.36b). However, he trusts that God knows best and is willing to submit to his will. It is the supreme example for us when we are fearful of what lies ahead.
The contrast between Jesus and his disciples would be amusing, were it not for the context. They are not facing anything like what he is facing. But they cannot even keep awake to support him in prayer; they keep falling asleep. I must say, I sympathise with them. I often find it hard to stay awake.
Jesus says, ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (v.38). I have to confess this is very often true of me in the face of the challenge to pray more, ‘The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’
–from Day 67: Bible In One Year 2017
3. In temptation… ‘BUT you…’ … Leviticus 17:1-18:30
Eating Blood Forbidden
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: 3Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it 4instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people. 5This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields. They must bring them to the priest, that is, to the Lord, at the entrance to the tent of meeting and sacrifice them as fellowship offerings. 6The priest is to splash the blood against the altar of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 7They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols7 Or the demons to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’
8“Say to them: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9and does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the Lord must be cut off from the people of Israel.
10“ ‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. 12Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”
13“ ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”
15“ ‘Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean. 16But if they do not wash their clothes and bathe themselves, they will be held responsible.’ ”
–from Leviticus 17
Unlawful Sexual Relations
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.
6“ ‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.
7“ ‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.
8“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.
9“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.
10“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.
11“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.
12“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.
13“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.
14“ ‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.
15“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.
16“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.
17“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.
18“ ‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.
19“ ‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.
20“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.
21“ ‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
23“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
24“ ‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
29“ ‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
The Israelites were facing great temptation because of the sexual immorality and activities of the people around them. However God spoke to his people about the way that they were to live: ‘But you must keep my decrees and my laws’ (Leviticus 18:26a).
I heard this true story: A woman was asked ‘What is the best thing about being 104 years old?’ She replied: ‘No peer-pressure.’
There is often a temptation to conform to peer-pressure and follow the standards of those around us. One area where there is a great pressure to conform is sexual morality.
In this context God says to his people, ‘Don’t live like the people of Egypt where you used to live, and don’t live like the people of Canaan where I’m bringing you. Don’t do what they do. Obey my laws and live by my decrees. I am your God’ (vv.2–4, MSG).
Like the ancient Israelites we live in a culture that has very different sexual ethics to God’s. God wants you to safeguard his wonderful gift of sex, and not get enticed into following those around you. Be careful to follow God’s ways. If you do, far from missing out, you will actually find life; ‘the person who obeys [God’s decrees and laws] will live by them’ (v.5).
God’s people are called to be different. St Paul wrote, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world’ (Romans 12:2). This call to be different goes right back to the earliest days of God’s people (Leviticus 18).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul lists some of the activities (including sexual activities) that Christians had been involved in before their conversion. Again, he uses this powerful word, ‘but’: ‘But you,’ he says, ‘were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Therefore you are to live differently.
–from Day 67: Bible In One Year 2017
A little video that speaks to “conjunctions” that brings back a lot of memories from Saturday morning commercials.